Take-Two's day of Payne

The publisher's financial results highlight strong earnings, release schedules, and forecasts--and an October 15 release date for Max Payne 2.

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In addition to its announcement concerning the bundling of Grand Theft Auto games for the PS2 and Xbox, Take-Two Interactive outlined a period of earnings stronger than expected, the acquisition of another publisher, and its future plans in 2003 and beyond.

Take-Two's third quarter, ended July 31, 2003, accounted for $155.6 million in net sales, an increase of 27 percent over sales of $122.5 million from its third quarter in 2002, according to the publisher. Its net income of $7.7 million for that period marks an increase of 60 percent compared to Q3 2002's $4.8 million last year. $758.6 million in net sales for the nine months ended July 31, 2003, represents a 32 percent increase over $575.7 million for the same period last year. That nine-month period resulted in a net income of $73.4 million, a 49 percent increase over the $49.2 million from last year, according to Take-Two.

By the first week of November, Take-Two plans to complete is acquisition of TDK Mediactive for an announced $22.7 million. TDK reported a net loss of $8.3 million for its fiscal year, ended March 31, 2003. Take-Two now has the exclusive North American distribution rights for several titles on various platforms from TDK Mediactive's portfolio, including mid-October's The Haunted Mansion and late October's Corvette and Star Trek: Shattered Universe. Take-Two estimates that the TDK acquisition will result in an additional $35 million in net sales in its fiscal year 2004, although this is not expected to have a large impact on net income in that period.

For the fiscal year ending October 31, 2003, Take-Two raised its financial guidance to $1.015 billion in net sales, a figure it anticipates topping for its fiscal year ended October 31, 2004, with $1.18 billion in net sales.

For its third-quarter performance, Take-Two has credited its Rockstar Games label's release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for the PC, the Greatest Hits version of GTA 3 for the PS2, and Midnight Club 2 for the PC, PS2, and Xbox. Additionally, the Gathering released Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic and Stronghold Warchest for the PC, while Gotham Games released The Great Escape for the PC, PS2, and Xbox in North America, along with Motocross Mania 2 and ATV Mania for the PSOne.

Finally, Take-Two provided information on future releases, as follows:

*Grand Theft Auto 3 for PC/PS2, September (in Japan), via an agreement with Capcom
*Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne for PC, October 15, Rockstar Games
*GTA 3/GTA: Vice City bundle for PS2, October 22 (in North America) Rockstar Games
*GTA 3/GTA: Vice City bundle for Xbox, November 4 (in North America) Rockstar Games
*Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne for PS2/Xbox, Nov. '03-Jan. '04, Rockstar Games
*Manhunt for PS2, November 19 (in North America), Rockstar Games
*Mafia for PS2/Xbox, Nov. '03-Jan. '04, Gathering
*Railroad Tycoon 3 for PC, Nov. '03-Jan. '04, Gathering
*Hidden & Dangerous 2 for PC, Nov. '03-Jan. '04, Gathering
*Space Colony for PC, Nov. '03-Jan. '04, Gathering
*Conflict: Desert Storm II for PS2/Xbox, Nov. '03-Jan. '04 (in North America), Gotham Games
*Starsky & Hutch, Gotham PS2/Xbox, Nov. '03-Jan. '04 (in North America), Gotham Games
*MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch for GC/PC/PS/PS2/Xbox, Nov. '03-Jan. '04, Gotham Games

In addition to stating its intention to expand its offerings in mid- and value-priced software (typified by its Jack of All Games label), mass-market games, and licensed children's properties from TDK, Take-Two mentioned that its fiscal year 2004 would see the release of the next Grand Theft Auto game from Rockstar, the Warriors game based on the film from Paramount Pictures, and Hidden & Dangerous and Vietcong sequels from the Gathering, along with new intellectual properties. Take-Two estimates that for its first fiscal quarter, ended January 31, 2004, it would achieve $412 million in net sales.

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